The Defence Headquaters has denied media reports that the Air Component of Operation HADIN KAI (OPHK) on Sunday 26 September 2021, killed 20 fishermen in air strikes at Kwatan Daban Masara general area in the fringes of the Lake chad.
A statement by Director, Defence Media Operations (DMO) Brig.-Gen Bernard Onyeuko Thursday, said the strike was precise and professionally executed after careful Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance missions revealed the activities of ISWAP elements in the location.
He said troops of OPHK will continue to safe guard lives and property of innocent civilians.
He also urged members of the public not to be swayed by the trending misinformation.
The statement reads in parts, “Responding to credible Intelligence report on the movement and operation of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists massed up within the forested area, thorough analysis of the intelligence report was conducted between 19 August and 23 September 2021. Special Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaisance (ISR) mission was also carried out, which confirmed the area as the terrorists’ staging area. Further confirmatory reconnaissance revealed that the observed movements and activities were of ISWAP, dressed in the usual ISWAP-styled uniform. The terrorists used the thick folliage for cover and concealment to carry out their nefarious activities. They disguised as fishermen, with canoes loaded with unidentified items, berthed along the river bank. They were however observed not engaging in any fishing activity, but loading their canoes with unidentified items to be ferried to other locations.
“It is also very essential to point out that the ban on fishing activities within that general axis is still in force. It is equally of importance, to note that there was no presence of women and children in the area. Troops also ensured that civilian settlements were not in any way along the line of fire and strikes in order to prevent collateral damage that may arise in the conduct of the air strikes. It was after all these considerations that an air interdiction was carried out on the terrorists’ camp on Sunday, 26 Sep, 2021.
“The Defence Headquarters therefore wishes to unambiguously state that necessary steps were taken to ascertain the presence of the terrorists before the interdiction. OPHK will continue to safe guard lives and property of innocent civilians. We urge members of the public not to be swayed by the trending misinformation.
“It is crucial to reiterate that the mandate of OPHK remains to conduct Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency operations against all adversaries fighting the nation in North East Nigeria.”